Teacher Innovation #10: “Innovation as Self: A Teacher Reflects on Innovation as a Pedagogical Philosophy Shift”

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Post #10 is from Dr. Kim Foster, a practicing ELA teacher with nearly a decade of classroom experience. I met Dr. Foster when we both started our doctoral studies in 2013 and from day one, she was both a good friend and someone who challenged my own intellectual aptitude as a graduate student. (I grew to be a better doc student because of her; although, she is too humble to agree to that.) Dr. Foster has my utmost respect and is the embodiment of what it means to foster (no pun intended) caring relationships in the classroom and to have a growth mindset. Her post reflects on her evolution in pedagogical philosophy and pedagogy in the classroom over the course of her career and particularly the last four years of research. Much like myself, Dr. Foster experienced a seismic shift in her pedagogical approach. If you want delve into culturally relevant pedagogy and a critical approach to teaching in the classroom, you do not want to miss reading this post. Even if you’re not a teacher, this post highlights how our best teachers grow and change student lives.

Previous Entries in the Series: Post #1 // Post #2 // Post #3 // Post #4 // Post #5 // Post #6 // Post #7 // Post #8 // Post #9

By Dr. Kim Foster

When Kyle asked me to participate in this “innovation” series, I immediately said yes because Kyle is awesome, and I love to write about my classroom. However, the more I pondered on my teaching, the more I concluded, “What I do in the classroom is really not that super innovative…what does it mean to be innovative?” Well, I googled it because that is how we find quick answers these days. Google claims that innovating is “to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.” As I mulled over my thoughts, what I determined is that my mindset as a teacher has been in a process of innovation for the past four years. In this post, I will share about an unanticipated shift in my pedagogical approach that came about when I started a doctoral program (how I met Kyle) to learn more about how to teach more effectively, and what I gained can not be quantified by insignificant numbers or qualified by mere words. I am the result of innovation, and I hope that all teachers can find encouragement in allowing yourself to be refined, revived, and renewed in ways that you may never know that you need. I start with a reminiscent scene from ten years ago during my student teaching; I then share a brief description of the knowledge that sparked my journey. I move to a reflection from my dissertation research; and I end with a reflection as I move into my tenth year of teaching. Continue reading

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Teacher Innovation #8: “True Collaboration: The Magic of Planning, Designing, and Teaching Alongside Colleagues”

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The 8th post of my Summer Teacher Innovation Series comes from another ELA colleague, mentor, and friend, Nadine Bell. Nadine has been teaching nearly 30 years and shows zero signs of slowing down! I had the pleasure of working closely with her the last two years, working alongside her on the 9th grade ELA course team and as regular collaborator for academy-related planning. Nadine is everything you would want from a veteran teacher–knowledgeable, collaborative, wise, and reflective. She also breaks all the negative stereotypes often unfairly lobbed at veteran educators. As you will read in today’s post, she hates the idea of her practice being left to stagnate, so when you come to her with a harebrained scheme of how to start changing a few teaching paradigms in your school building, well, she says ‘yes!’ The practice Nadine shares today is hopefully the shape of what is to come in our schoolhouse where teachers bring classes together to co-teach content based on those teachers’ strengths. I am very excited to share this post. Enjoy!

Previous Series Entries: Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 // Part 4 // Part 5 // Part 6 // Part 7

by Nadine Bell

Jeff Spence is the former COO and president of Innovolt, a specialty company who patented intelligent electronics management technology, and current CEO of NexDefense, and is an expert on facilitating collaboration as a business model in the corporate sector. As I listened to Spence share his partnering with Gwinnett County Public Schools to introduce this model into the classroom, I couldn’t help but think this is what should be happening in the co-taught setting (the least restrictive environment for a special education student where the general education teacher works with a special education resource teacher to meet the needs of a student(s) Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). However, anyone who has been in the classroom for any length of time and had the opportunity to have a co-taught class knows that typically, at least at the high school level, the general education teacher provides the instruction and the special education teacher is often simply a behavior monitor at least and at best a teacher who will initiate small group instruction as a form of remediation or ensure compliance with small group testing.  Of course there are exceptions, but generally speaking, seldom is the co-taught classroom one of true collaboration. Continue reading

Teacher Innovation #6: Using Zines to Promote Black History & Identity Work in the ELA Classroom

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Post #6 is close to my heart and comes from friend and colleague, Glenn Chance. Glenn is a second year ELA teacher at my school. And while technically Glenn is new to teaching, he came to the classroom with plenty of life experience. Glenn has guest posted before. On his first post, I explained his background as a high school dropout, longtime retail worker, and eventual scholar. The reason this post is close to my heart, as the title suggests, is Glenn writes about his use of zines and purposeful identity work in his classroom. Glenn is a relatively fearless, early-years teacher. We talked almost every day this past school year, and I enjoyed watching his tremendous growth. As you will see from his post, Glenn understands how important genuinely combining literature, writing, and identity work really is. I highly recommend reading this post all the way through–especially, if you are considering doing zine work in your own classroom.

Previous Series Entries: Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 // Part 4 // Part 5

by Glenn Chance

Introduction – What is a Zine?

Check out these links to learn more – Zines in Action
http://grrrlzines.net/agogo.htm
https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/blog-posts/john-depasquale/zine-making-101/

A zine is a way of saying magazine, just shortened to the last four letters.  Zines are magazines, only miniaturized.  They aren’t new, and have actually been around for decades.  If you’ve ever belonged to a fandom, chances are, there is a zine about it somewhere, or at least there was at one time.   Continue reading

Teacher Innovation #5: “Learning is Inquiry, not Acceptance”

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Post #5 comes compliments of a friend and former doctoral cohort compatriot, Nick Thompson. Nick is currently a doctoral student at The University of Georgia, but before he attended UGA, Nick taught in a public high school in the metro-Atlanta area for years, including a few of those years when we both started our doctoral journey at Kennesaw State University. Much of Nick’s research interests have been driven by comparing medical doctor preparation and practice to that of educator preparation and practice. That’s the lens he brings to today’s post. While Nick shares an experience from his classroom two years ago in the same vein of previous posters in the series, Nick starts this post with a bigger picture in mind. The innovation we are looking at today is both internal and external. Internal in the sense of how a teacher contemplates teaching English language arts (ELA) canon through inquiry, and external in the sense of how teacher preparation programs do or do not require an educator-in-training to be an inquirer him or herself.

Previous Series Entries: Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 // Part 4

by Nick Thompson

The Progressive Movement

Around the turn of the 20th century, John Dewey was working hard to fight for a more democratic society through education, arguing that a “society with too few independent thinkers is vulnerable to control by disturbed and opportunistic leaders. A society which wants to create and maintain a free and democratic social system must create responsible independence of thought among its young.” At the same time, the Carnegie foundation appointed a man named Flexner to make a comprehensive report on the state of medical education in America. Flexner visited 150 medical schools, university-based and otherwise, and his resulting report changed the face of medical training to this day. It was he who proposed the four-year curriculum that is still followed in most medical schools. Continue reading

Teacher Innovation #2: “Using Affinity Spaces in the Secondary ELA Classroom”

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Post number 2 of the innovation series comes from another friend, but not one I have had the honor of working directly with yet, Derek Wright. Derek has been teaching for 4 years and in that short time has done some amazing work in his classroom and as a leader in his school.  Derek’s emphasis on exploring what James Gee calls “affinity spaces” with students is an innovative approach to building community in a classroom as well as develop those much desired, but often unquantifiable, metacognitive skills.

Previous Teacher Innovation Entries: Part 1

by Derek Wright

A very brief introduction:

All students want to learn. Period. But, if we are being honest with ourselves, all students do not want the way schools are currently setup. Everyday though students are learning, collaborating, and producing new content. They are doing this through an idea called “affinity spaces”. Affinity spaces are note only places where passionate learning takes place, but it is a place where content is being produced and consumed. These are highly engaging places that a community is built around learning, teaching, and producing. I am not going to spend a lot of time writing about the theory behind affinity spaces, but if you are interested in more theory about affinity spaces read Dr. James Paul Gee’s book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literary, and read Dr. Jayne Lammers, Dr. Jen Scott Curwood, and Dr. Alica Marie Magnifico’s article “Toward an affinity space methodology: Considerations for literacy research”.  This assignment idea came from being in Dr. Ryan Rish’s class during my undergraduate degree at KSU. Continue reading